Behind the Studio Doors...


How are you doing? I hope you are well and keeping safe in these difficult times.

I thought it was about time I caught you up on what is happening behind the scenes of Kate Bird Art. I’m mainly busy working on Christmas Pet Portraits, so haven’t got a lot to share with you on social media. I was hoping to have brought out some new products by now, but that idea fell flat on it’s face 😂 Let me fill you in...

So, I’d been thinking about trying my hand at sublimation printing, which is a process that uses heat to transfer an image on to objects such as mugs, cushions, coasters, etc., for a while now, and last month I decided to go for it and ordered all the equipment; a new printer, special inks and paper, a heat press, and some tote bags to start with. I set it all up last weekend, in between commissions, found an old white T-shirt to practice on and decided to start with my Badger.

I printed out the badger and it didn’t come out very well, nothing like my usual prints at all, but I was optimistic at this point, knowing that the ink colours aren't activated without heat. So I carried on and heat pressed it on to the t-shirt. It worked in terms of transferring the image on to the T-shirt but the hue of the image was far too green. I edited the image and tried again, but it wasn’t much better. I did a lot of googling and tried changing various settings on my laptop, printer and the image, but nothing got even close to the original. Eventually I found out that for sublimation printing you need 100% polyester material, my T-shirt was 60% poly 40% cotton, so this could be the reason, but it could also be the ink or the paper causing the problem.

I was under the impression that you could print on anything using the sublimation method, which I think is still the case, but the picture will be dull and will fade overtime unless the item is polyester or coated with polyester. I have ordered some poly spray that is used to coat items to be sublimated on, so we will see how that goes. It will have to wait until I’ve finished the commissions though, a project for the Christmas/New Year break I think. I’m in two minds about this now though, because I’m trying to be as environmentally friendly as possible and ordered, you guessed it, recycled cotton tote bags 😩 but I suppose if the spray works I can still use the totes and they’re not a throwaway item, which will keep the plastic particles away from landfill and the oceans. And, I must remember that, I would have been outsourcing for these anyway if not printing myself.

I am also still waiting on the printer that I ordered back in August!! which will enable me to produce better quality, lightfast prints, up to A2 size. The last update was that they would be in stock in November, but I've not heard anything since and as there's only a week left of November, I'm not holding much hope unfortunately. It's such a shame as I'm going to miss the Christmas rush now, never mind, I will just have to have a big release of everything in the new year.

Some more positive art news now,

I’ve entered three of my drawings into the UK Coloured Pencil Society online exhibition! The drawings are puppy Eli, New Forest Foal and Darcy the Donkey 😀

All the entries will be displayed online throughout December and the award winners will be announced on 1st December. Wish me luck!

Also, Adam has been helping me set up a mailing list recently, so that is live on my website if you’d like to sign up, though you’ve probably already seen the pop up for it as you’re on my website now 😅 I’m planning to start sending out a monthly newsletter from January, and there‘ll be a free printable month calendar in that. (I expect the first one will be end of Dec)

I have a special offer on my christmas cards:

Pack of 6 (two of each design) - £8 with free UK postage

Pack of 9 (three of each design) - £10.50 with free UK postage

They are available here:

Outside of the studio,

We’ve finally got round to decorating our living room, with thanks to my mum and dad for helping me with the floor because I wasn’t strong enough to cut through the planks. It’s nearly finished now, we just need to decide how to have the fireplace, we’ve got an electric wood burner, we definitely want a wooden beam for the mantel piece, but struggling to decide on the hearth. We are also waiting on the sofa, which was meant to be delivered on Wednesday, I won’t go into detail, but basically turns out they didn’t have it in the warehouse despite booking a delivery slot and making us pay the remaining balance, either that or they delivered it to someone else perhaps. Either way someone messed up and all in all it’s been a right shambles. Good job the council couldn’t collect our old sofa straight away 🙈

I've been trying to get outdoors as much as possible, whether it's horse riding or dog walks, to help with stress and anxiety, which was self inflicted by trying to do too much at once. I’ve had some great nature sightings recently, you might have seen the red deer photos I posted in my Facebook group, a big herd, including a stag and this year’s babies, they weren’t bothered by us at all so I’ve got some great photos for future drawings. We’ve had my favourite bird, a nuthatch, on the garden feeders. I’m not ashamed to admit that I get so excited when I see unusual birds in the garden 😂. We have lots of regular visitors too, two squirrels (there were three, but I found out the other day that next doors cat had brought in one’s tail 😕 I find it unlikely that the cat had actually caught the squirrel itself, but whatever happened to it, it is sadly no more), great tits, blue tits, coal tits, longtail tits (I’ve not been able to count them recently, but there were 8 at the start of the year), black birds, pigeons, magpies, a robin, a wren and a dunnock. I’ve found a real good bird food supplier, Happy Beaks, and if you use this link you can get 20% off your first shop, and you also get loyalty points with them too.

I've been listening to a wonderful podcast whilst drawing, 'The Stubborn Light of Things', which is recorded by nature writer and novelist, Melissa Harrison, whilst she walks around rural Suffolk, documenting the wonder and richness of the natural world. I've learnt so much from them and it's also really inspired me to try my hand at nature writing. Something to work on next year, this is my first attempt:

I love how the contrasting, wiggly tree branches fragment this view and cause your eye to jump all around the image, to me it somehow seems to represent these strange times we are in. But it also holds as a reminder that beauty does not need to be perfection. Nature has plenty of blemishes, imperfections and doesn't care for symmetry.

Relax and go with the flow; let your branches grow.

I'd really like to read Melissa's book 'All Among the Barley', but I just don't have time to read at the moment. However, I've just seen that it's available as an audio book, so that will be a much better option for me! If you enjoy audio books you can get a free trial of Audible and a free book by clicking the image below:

The book I've mentioned is here:

Well, that's all from me, we're just about to head out for a dog walk now, then I'll be carrying on with my horse portrait and packaging up the dog I have finished. Stay safe and hope to speak to you in an email newsletter next month.

Follow me on Instagram: @katebirdart

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Youtube Vlogs and Tutorials: Kate Bird Art Channel

*Disclosure: some of the links in the blog post are affiliate links, which means, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you make a purchase through my link.

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